Study: We all try to skip the easy steps

by on August 23, 2012 · 0 Comment POSTED IN: Workplace Safety Network

Quick: If it takes five machines five minutes to make five widgets, how long does it take 100 machines to make 100 widgets?

That’s one question designed to help us identify a blind spot we all have. We tend to grab at the “first apparent answer” and skip the simple steps. In this case, it’s actually doing the arithmetic. And this is true of everyone, no matter what their job and education.

Implications for safety trainers: During procedural training, slow workers down and remind them to do each step. For example, in electrical training, have them calculate wattage from amps and volts, and then determine if the extension cord/wiring is properly rated.

If you can “catch” workers skipping steps in training, they may remember during the workday the embarrassment of simple mistakes – and use more discipline when following procedures.

By the way, the answer to the first question is five minutes. Each machine takes five minutes to make a widget. So 100 machines would each make one in five minutes; thus, 100 widgets.

But we’re all tempted to jump at 100-100-100 – or divide 100/5 and come up with 20 minutes.

Source: West, R., et al., Cognitive Sophisticated Does Not Attentuate the Bias Blind Spot, May 2012: Journal of Personality and Social Psychology.

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